CITY OF MUSKEGON
DATE OF MEETING: Thursday, December 11, 2014
TIME OF MEETING: 4:00 p.m.
PLACE OF MEETING: Commission Chambers, First Floor, Muskegon City Hall
I. Roll Call
II. Approval of Minutes from the regular meeting of October 16, 2014.
III. Public Hearings
A. Hearing, Case 2014-13: Request to rezone the property at 916 W Laketon from R-1, Single
Family Residential to B-4, General Business by Lakeshore Animal Hospital.
IV. New Business
V. Old Business
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CITY OF MUSKEGON
October 16, 2014
Chairman T. Michalski called the meeting to order at 4:02 p.m. and roll was taken.
MEMBERS PRESENT: T. Michalski, B. Larson, L. Spataro, B. Mazade, S. Gawron, S. Wisneski, F.
Peterson, B. Smith
MEMBERS ABSENT: J. Doyle, excused
STAFF PRESENT: M. Franzak, C. Brubaker-Clarke, D. Renkenberger
OTHERS PRESENT: M. Landis, Parmenter-O’Toole; M. Bear, 529 Houston Ave; S. Rinsema-
Sybenga, Community EnCompass; K. Johnson, 1281 Montgomery; C.
Ohs, 1239 Terrace; D. Warren, 123 Larch; J. EldenBrady, 1336 Spring
St.; J. Montambo, Mercy Health
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
A motion that the minutes of the regular meeting of September 11, 2014 be approved, was made by B.
Larson, supported by S. Wisneski and unanimously approved.
Hearing, Case 2014-12: Staff-initiated request to amend the zoning ordinance to allow medical marihuana
dispensaries in B-2 (Convenience and Comparison Business), B-3 (Central Business), B-4 (General
Business), B-5 (Governmental Business), MC (Medical Care), I-1 (Light Industrial) and I-2 (General
Industrial) districts. A copy of the proposed city ordinance on medical marijuana was provided to board
members. The ordinance was approved at the September 23 City Commission meeting, but will have to go
back for a second reading on October 14 because it was not unanimous, with one City Commissioner voting
no. The city ordinance was written to allow medical marijuana dispensaries in B-2, B-3, B-4, B-5, MC, I-1,
and I-2 districts. Currently, medical marihuana caregiver facilities are only allowed in I-2 districts. A
medical marihuana dispensary is defined in the ordinance as one or more primary caregivers growing,
storing, delivering, transferring, and/or providing qualifying patients with medical marihuana out of a
building or structure. The Planning Commission is being asked to approve the districts in which these
dispensaries will be allowed to operate as a principal use.
B. Smith arrived at 4:05 p.m.
B. Mazade verified that the City Commission had already approved the ordinance amendment. M. Landis
stated that they had approved it with the understanding that it still required Planning Commission approval.
S. Wisneski stated that the was not in favor of allowing medical marihuana facilities in business zoning
No one in the audience wished to speak on this case. A motion to close the public hearing was made by L.
Spataro, supported by B. Larson and approved.
A motion that the amendments to principal uses permitted sections of the B-2, B-3, B-4, B-5, MC, I-1 and I-2
districts of the Zoning Ordinance be recommended to City Commission for approval, was made by B. Larson
and supported by B. Smith, with discussion continuing on the motion.
T. Michalski asked M. Landis why all of those zoning districts were included. M. Landis stated that the
ideas was to keep the facilities from being concentrated in one area. B. Mazade was concerned with the
“grow and cultivate” wording, which he thought was inappropriate for most of the zoning districts being
considered. L. Spataro stated that he understood the concerns but there were currently people running
marihuana operations in several locations, and the City needed to get a better handle on regulating them. He
stated that there had been no clear direction from the Federal government. S. Wisneski asked if it would
create problems for law enforcement, since Federal law superseded city ordinance. M. Landis explained that
dispensaries and many other aspects of the medical marihuana ordinance are not address by Federal law. T.
Michalski asked why the B-2 zoning district was included. M. Franzak stated that the expected use fit the
density of use in that district. S. Wisneski was opposed to the inclusion of the business districts, and asked
why the City was bothering to craft a new ordinance when the law was so fluid at this point. S. Gawron
stated that it was important to have something in place that provided local control over the medical
marihuana businesses. L. Spataro stated that the proposed ordinance would keep the businesses out of
residential areas, and if the City did nothing, enforcement would revert to state law, where it is not addressed.
A vote was taken on the above motion to recommend approval to the City Commission and was approved,
with B. Mazade and S. Wisneski voting nay.
Case 2014-11: Staff-initiated request to amend Section 2313 (Community Gardens) of the zoning ordinance
to replace it with an urban farming ordinance. Public comments for this case were heard at the September 11
Planning Commission meeting and the public hearing was closed. Staff was directed to take comments from
Planning Commissioners, farmers and the general public, and to have a discussion about the proposed zoning
ordinance amendment at the October meeting. Staff met with several farming groups on October 6 to discuss
changes to the proposed ordinance. The following changes were written in the proposed ordinances: 1) 15-
foot setback for tall crops in front, 5-foot setback on the sides and back if a fence is erected; 2) Crop areas
and planting beds shall have the same setback requirements, 3) Allow low ornamental plantings within the
setback areas; mulch may also be used except within the first 5’of the front setback; 4) Temporary restrooms
may be screened by plants or structures in lieu of fencing.
The board discussed some procedural issues. It was decided that members would ask questions of staff first,
then allow public comments, even though the public hearing had been closed last month. M. Franzak stated
that the changes he had come up with based on input gleaned in his meetings were minor, and were outlined
in the staff report (see above). L. Spataro stated that he was in favor of community gardens, but his concern
was still whether or not the gardens or farms would be subject to the Right to Farm Act if commercial sales
were allowed. B. Mazade had several concerns with commercial farming and felt that the City was moving
too far away from the community garden concept. He stated that the City’s dense urban areas were not
suitable for commercial farming in order to generate profits. S. Gawron concurred that he too was in favor of
community gardens, but that commercial farming raised a lot of other issues.
M. Bear spoke in favor of urban farming and allowing commercial sales of produce. She stated that it helped
employ people who might otherwise be unable to make a living. S. Wisneski suggested that the correct body
to bring this issue before would be the state legislature, as it was state law that was restricting local
governments on the issue. L. Spataro concurred that urban farming and related sales was a legislative issue.
He stated that he was not ready to vote on an urban farming ordinance at this time. S. Rinsema-Sybenga
spoke in favor of urban farming and associated commercial sales. She described the McLaughlin Grows
program, stating that it provided neighborhood beautification, food production and access, work experience
and job training. She stated that the urban farming movement was growing, and that selling their produce
was key to their success. B. Smith asked if the school system was buying their produce. S. Rinsema-
Sybenga stated that there was an exchange of resources. S. Wisneski reiterated that he felt the Planning
Commission’s hands were tied until there was a change in state law. M. Landis asked S. Rinsema-Sybenga
what her plans were for increased commercial activity. She stated that were currently providing food to
Chartwells for Muskegon Public Schools, and they had a CSA where they supplied members with produce
for a fee. They hoped to have a sustainable farm/garden. K. Johnson was in favor of allowing commercial
sales of produce, and stated that doing so would not automatically remove the City’s authority under the
Right to Farm Act. He stated that allowing commercial produce sales would benefit residents and put vacant
lots to use. C. Ohs, D. Warren, J. EldenBrady, and J. Montambo spoke in favor of urban farms and allowing
commercial produce sales.
A motion to refer the issue back to staff to address concerns mentioned was made by L. Spataro and
supported by S. Wisneski, with discussion continuing on the motion.
B. Mazade stated that he had other issues with the proposed ordinance besides whether to allow commercial
sales or not. He stated that he would only agree to delay action on the vote if there was some specific
direction given to staff, as public input was considered and the ordinances revised after the last meeting.
A vote was taken on the motion to refer the issue back to staff. The motion failed with T. Michalski,
B. Larson, B. Mazade, S. Gawron, S. Wisneski, F. Peterson, and B. Smith voting nay.
Board members discussed what would happen if no action were taken on the ordinances. B. Mazade
believed that the proposed ordinances would go on to City Commission without a recommendation from the
Planning Commission, and meanwhile, the current community gardens ordinance would remain in place. K.
Johnson requested clarification. M. Landis stated that, since it was a zoning ordinance matter, it required
Planning Commission action. T. Michalski stated that, since the Planning Commission took no action, the
current ordinance would remain in effect.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned at 5:15 p.m.
CITY OF MUSKEGON
December 11, 2014
Hearing, Case 2014-13: Request to rezone the property at 916 W Laketon from R-1, Single Family
Residential to B-4, General Business by Lakeshore Animal Hospital.
1. Lakeshore Animal Hospital is located at 896 W Laketon Ave. They also own the property at 916 W
Laketon Ave, which previously had a house on it, but was recently demolished. The lot is now
2. The property measures 39’ x 162’ and is considered a non-buildable lot because it does not have the
required minimum road frontage of 50 feet.
3. The applicant is seeking the rezoning so that they may expand their parking lot for the animal
hospital. Commercial parking lots are not allowed on residentially zoned properties.
4. Notice was given to properties within 300 feet of the property. Dolores Belonga of 1781 Division St
has no objection to the request. Janet Nelson at 973 W Larch Ave is in favor of the request. There
was also a voicemail left by an unnamed caller who was not in favor of the request.
Property at 916 W Laketon Ave looking north from Laketon Ave
Looking south from the alley
Current parking lot behind the building at 896 W Laketon Ave
Residential properties to the west
Aerial Map (house is not longer there)
Criteria-based questions typically asked during a rezoning include:
1. What, if any, identifiable conditions related to the petition have changed which justify the
petitioned change in zoning.
2. What are the precedents and the possible effects of precedent that might result from the approval
or denial of the petition?
3. What is the impact of the amendment on the ability of the city to provide adequate public services
and facilities and/or programs that might reasonably be required in the future if the petition is
4. Does the petitioned zoning change adversely affect the environmental conditions or value of the
5. Does the petitioned zoning change generally comply with the adopted Future Land Use Plan of
6. Are there any significant negative environmental impacts which would reasonably occur if the
petitioned zoning change and resulting allowed structures were built such as:
a. Surface water drainage problems
b. Waste water disposal problems
c. Adverse effect on surface or subsurface water quality
d. The loss of valuable natural resources such as forest, wetland, historic sites, or wildlife
7. Is the proposed zoning change a “Spot Zone”?
a. Is the parcel small in size relative to its surroundings?
b. Would the zoning change allow uses that are inconsistent with those allowed in the
c. Would the zoning change confer a benefit to the property owner that is not generally
available to other properties in the area?
d. A spot zone is appropriate if it complies with the Master Plan.
The following motion is offered for consideration:
I move that the request to rezone the property located at 916 W Laketon Ave from R-1, Single Family
Residential to B-4, General Business, as described in the public notice, be recommended for
(approval/denial) to the City Commission.